10 Facts About Vitamin B12 (Post may contain affiliate links).

Vitamin B12 was first “discovered” in the 1850s.

Thomas Addison, one of the earliest researchers of vitamin B12, discovered a lethal form of anemia he named pernicious anemia. Symptoms of this disease included:

  1. Glossitis – (inflammation of the tongue)
  2. Macrocytic – (too large) red blood cells
  3. Numbness and abnormal gait.

There was no treatment and so patients afflicted would die.

In the 1920s, Georges Richard Minot, a practicing MD at Harvard, came up with the idea that something in food might help patients. Minot teamed up with two other MDs and they did research on dogs 🙁 to discover a treatment.

The research involved bleeding dogs and then feeding them various types of food until they determined that meats, especially raw liver, were the best treatment. Unfortunately, they did not discover what was in the raw liver and meat. They did however, earn a Nobel Prize in Medicine for their efforts in 1934.

It has taken well over 100 years to understand vitamin B12. And research continues to this day.

During the period 1934 and 1948, Intrinsic factor was discovered. This was seen as a substance in the body that was necessary for absorption of this mysterious food element, that became known as “Extrinsic Factor.”

Intrinsic factor in the stomach is necessary for absorption

Intrinsic factor is most effective when the acid level is higher. As a result, older people and persons taking antacids are at an increased risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.

Animal Products are the only Natural Way to obtain vitamin B12

Spirulina has been cited as a source of vitamin B12, and Spirulina has been shown to have numerous health benefits.  However, the “B12” in Spirulina is an Analog or “Pseudo-vitamin.”

To make matters worse, this B12 analog in Spirulina also interferes with the absorption of the real vitamin B12.

Thus Spirulina is NOT a source of real vitamin B12.

Non-animal products are often fortified. For example:

  • Soy, Rice, and Almond Milk
  • Breakfast Cereals

Vitamin B12 is one of the water soluble vitamins.

As a result, it is easily lost when cooked in water.

Deficiency can result in psychosis

as well as spinal cord demyelination, neuropathy, and death.

Vitamin B12 is more readily absorbed when the stomach is acidic. As a result, antacids lower the absorption, and chronic antacid use can result in deficiency, especially in older persons.

B12 and Folate (Folic Acid) work together to prevent Megaloblastic anemia. As a result, it can be hard for healthcare providers to determine whether the cause is folic acid deficiency or B12 deficiency. Thus, it is important that you don't take excessive amounts of either folic acid or vitamin B12.


US RDA of B12

.9 micrograms – 1-3 years

1.2 micrograms – 4-8 years

1.8 micrograms – 9-13 years

2.4 micrograms – 14+ years

2.6 micrograms – Pregnancy

2.8 micrograms – Lactation

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